The Giants and Home Runs

Earlier today, Buster Olney tweeted this interesting tidbit:

On May 14th, Gregor Blanco hit a solo shot off of Christian Friedrich. Nearly a month has passed, and the Giants have yet to hit another home run at home. It has not only historic from a team standpoint — as their current drought is an SF-era franchise record, but it’s very close to tying a modern MLB record. Since 1961, only two teams — the ’83 Indians and the ’76 Royals — have had longer home run droughts at their respective home ballparks. The Giants are just one homerless game away from joining them.

At home, no team has fewer home runs than the San Francisco Giants; no team is even close. The Giants have six, five of which have been solo homers. For reference, here’s the entire list:

That’s it. The next worst are the Padres and Mariners, who are tied at 14 — which is still more than twice as many as the Giants have. There are 26 players with more home runs at their respective home ballparks than the entire San Francisco Giants team. Giancarlo Stanton, who has had all of 14 plate appearances in San Francisco this season, is tied with Pablo Sandoval for the major-league lead in “home runs at AT&T Park.”

Obviously, the home runs (or lack thereof) have been a problem. The Giants rank 29th in all of baseball at 35 home runs. (The Padres — also owners of the worst record in the majors, have the fewest in all of baseball, with 34). Additionally, San Francisco’s isolated power (ISO) of .120 puts them dead-last in the majors.

This offense was never going to mash, but the power production has still been surprisingly bad. Brandon Belt and Aubrey Huff, the two of whom have combined for one home run in 212 plate appearances, have been the main culprits. An improvement from those two, paired with the return of Pablo Sandoval, should be enough to change the Giants’ home run woes from “hilariously bad” to just plain “bad.”  And while I don’t anticipate a dramatic improvement in this category, that probably won’t stop the Giants from remaining in contention this season. Even with the lack of homers, the Giants have managed an 89 wRC+ on the season; mediocre as it is, that’s a significant improvement over last season (83). (It’s also worth noting that the Dodgers, at a major-league best 39 wins, rank 28th in home runs.)

In the meantime, the Giants will face off against Bud Norris at AT&T Park tomorrow. We’ll see if they can avoid tying that record.

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5 thoughts on “The Giants and Home Runs

  1. I think you’re right–the lack of power from 1B has been a big surprise. I don’t think anyone expected huge power production from Belt, but you’d think he would have run into a couple by now. I never expected much from Huff.

    And, I don’t think Belt’s lack of home runs has anything to do with a lack of power. He hit some big shots last year, so I know he has power in his bat. He just doesn’t have the swing mechanics at the moment that he had last year. Combine his mechanics problem with confidence issues and a lack of playing time, and its easy to see why he’s struggling.

    I look at a video like the one below, and I see why I have hope for his future, but understand why he has struggled this year:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=18426463&topic_id=&c_id=mlb&tcid=vpp_copy_18426463&v=3

    That is a sweet swing–his upper body and lower body are in sync, something we haven’t seen a lot of this season. And, thus why it isn’t surprising the power has disappeared.

    Belt’s going to contribute at some point, I just don’t know if it will be this year, next year, or with some other team.

  2. The broadcasters implied the Giants might approach hitting in AT&T Park differently from other parks. The eye test suggests this doesn’t apply to Buster Posey, as I’ve watched him hit several opposite field balls for long (400+ ft) outs. But for Blanco, Pagan and Cabrera, it might be a legitimate strategy, as opposed to one out of necessity (Arias, Crawford).

    Pull hitters have the most power success in AT&T, as their balls have the shortest distance to travel to make it out. And right now, the Giants lack a right-handed pull hitter, meaning the team isn’t going to hit a lot of homers to the neutral part of the park where homers are more common. Left handed hitters, pull or not, need above average to extreme power to hit it up to the arcade without the wind tossing it around. For borderline power, Triple’s Alley is really Death Valley.

    I don’t have as much of a problem with the lack of home runs as some other fans. When SF has multiple .300+ hitters, like Pagan, Posey, and Cabrera who can terrorize opposing teams with the ground attack, and on-base steal machines like Blanco, you almost don’t miss the home run because those four are playing carousel on the basepaths. I’ll take a two-run double over a solo home run any day of the week.

    The lack of production from Belt is the biggest pain on this team because he’s not contributing either power or average at a position that doesn’t require exceptional defense. I wasn’t a huge Brandon Belt fan even before the revelation that he was a flawed player, but we have no choice but to hope he does what few players with his body type have ever done, find success in MLB. Wheeler is gone, Brown and Panik are currently terrible. There’s no turning back.

    Something I’ve speculated – last year, Belt promised on the Belt/DeRosa blog to do more cardio training in expectation that he’d be taking to the outfield more this year. Could that have come at the expense of weight training, hence why he’s had less power than last year? Scouts have always thought Belt could easily fill out like Brett Pill did, but he’s never shown up to camp “ripped”.

  3. The power is certainly lacking, but their offense is actually pretty decent. They are third in the NL in ROAD runs per game.

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